PowerID Battery Assisted Passive RFID Tags Read at 160+ Feet

Typical on-metal passive ISO18000-6C or EPCglobal Class 1 Generation 2 RFID tags read at distances up to 40 feet away. PowerID claims that its Battery-Assisted Passive RFID on-metal durable tags can be read from over 150 feet away. In fact, the PowerM is currently the only battery-assisted, passive RFID tag designed to work directly on metal assets. PowerID designed this version on the PowerM with an IP-67 rating – so it’s a lot more durable than the previous version. In this edition we’re going put the PowerM to the test and see just how much power PowerID's on-metal RFID tags really have.


PowerID BAP RFID tag Starter-Kit

PowerID BAP Starter-Kit
Watch the previous video

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PowerID Battery-Assisted-Passive (BAP) Tags & Labels Specifications

Manufacturer /
Product Name
Optimized Frequencies
Memory Dimensions &
Environmental

PowerM™ – RFID Tags for Tracking Metal
(Click here to view the datasheet)
902-928 MHz (FCC)
or
865-868 MHz (ETSI)
96-bit EPC memory
720-bit on-chip user memory
64-bit tag unique identifier

150 x 69 x 8.6 mm
IP67 Rating
Operating temperature: -20 °C to +60° C
Humidity: 5%-95% non-condensing


PowerG™ – RFID Labels for General Purpose Logistics
(Click here to view the datasheet)
860-960 (Global)
96-bit EPC memory
720-bit on-chip user memory
64-bit tag unique identifier

85 x 54 x 0.9 mm
Operating temperature: -20 °C to +60° C
Humidity: 5%-95% non-condensing


PowerP – People Tracking RFID Tags
(Click here to view the datasheet)
860-960 (Global) 96-bit EPC memory
720-bit on-chip user memory
64-bit tag unique identifier
85 x 54 x 1.5 mm
Operating temperature: -20 °C to +60° C
Humidity: 5%-95% non-condensing

Our Battery-Assisted Passive (BAP) RFID Tags and Labels Performance Benchmark Tests

In fall of 2009, we performed benchmark testing of the PowerG and the previous version of the PowerM tag. The video of that testing appears at the end of this article. In this edition, we test the new version of PowerM, which has a five year battery life and an IP67 Rating. We compared the these BAP RFID tags to the most commonly used ISO 18000-6C durable tags and passive labels to understand just how much difference the battery makes.

All tests are designed based on real-world scenarios that a tag will encounter. At least three trials of every test is performed. When possible, a different tag is used for each test in order to account for production variances. This also eliminates having a really good tag or a really bad tag that skews the results. Although tags may read briefly at further distances, each tag must maintain a 3 second read before the distance results are recorded. In some cases a tag would be read very briefly at a much greater distance than the recorded result demonstrates. Our team selected 3 seconds because it helps to eliminate tags reads resulting from stray reflections. After extensive testing by our team of experts, the results were captured and the averages are calculated and published below.

PowerM Durable RFID Tag Maximum Read Distance on Metal with CS-462 RFID Reader

In our stationary reader tests the PowerM durable RFID tage achieved an average of 162 feet on-metal. Keep in mind, the PowerM is a durable on-metal RFID tag for tracking metal assets such as automotive and aerospace parts.

UHF passive RFID Battery-Assisted Passive (BAP) tag benchmarks for maximum read distance with a stationary reader

Tag Read Performance with Hand-held RFID Reader

In our hand-held reader tests the PowerM RFID label was read about 45 feet away on metal.

UHF passive RFID Battery-Assisted Passive (BAP) tag benchmarks for maximum read distance with a hand-held reader

In our previous tests, our team tested the PowerG RFID label. Designed for general purpose logistics, the PowerG RFID label is used for tracking of freight and mixed pallets from distribution centers to stores or final destination points.  Remember, the PowerG is a labels and is extremely thin and even somewhat flexible.

The PowerG RFID label, which is designed for general purpose logistics applications, achieved an average read distance of 157 feet on cardboard. This is significantly more than the read distance of a traditional passive Gen 2 RFID label which read at distances between 20 and 35 feet away. In our hand-held reader tests the PowerG RFID label achieved read distances just under 50 feet on cardboard. The battery also helped overcome read challenges when working with pallets of liquids and metals traveling through RFID-enabled portals.

How Battery-Assisted Passive (BAP) RFID Tags and Labels Work

Traditional passive RFID tags rely on gathering energy from the reader’s signal to wake up the chip and provide the backscatter required for identification.  Battery-Assisted Passive RFID technology, or "BAP" as it’s often referred to in the industry, tags contain their own integrated power source. PowerID provides long-range, high performance BAP RFID labels for selected applications in industries involving freight, metals, chemicals, paper, people tracking, race timing, and the cold supply chain.

The PowerM durable RFID tags have a battery life of 5 years. Inside the thin PowerID RFID labels (such as the PowerG) as well as the PowerP, there is a very thin 1.5 volt battery. PowerID publishes that the battery life for this thin battery is 2 and half years at room temperature, even while reading the tag 10,000 times per day. What’s important to note is when a battery finally does die, the tag still reads, but only at a shorter distance of up to 12 feet. This is true for all of the PowerID tags.

How Battery-Assisted  Passive (BAP) RFID Tags and Labels Work

BAP tags are more sensitive than traditional passive tags. In real world terms, that means these tags can be read from further away and more importantly, they provide increased reliability and read rates even in the most challenging environments, such as those containing liquids and metals.

It’s important to point out that the PowerID labels are not a proprietary technology, but fully compliant with the ISO 18000-6C and EPCglobal Class 1 Generation 2 standards.

It’s also very important not to confuse BAP tags with active tags.  Active tags transmit a beacon at a defined interval.  BAP tags do not transmit.  They use the battery to improve the signal strength when they respond to a reader.

Printing on Battery-Assisted Passive (BAP) RFID Labels

It is possible to print and encode to the PowerG RFID label using commerically available RFID printer-encoders. PowerID has written detailed specifications for two such models:


The PowerP, used for personnel applications, can be purchased with pre-pinted information on one or both sides of the card. This is ideal for exhibitions, trade shows, and conferences that have badge sponsors as well as loyalty cards and student ID cards.

Getting Maximum Performance from Battery-Assisted Passive (BAP) RFID Tags & Labels

Obviously, some RFID readers perform better than others, but this is especially true when working with BAP tags. Because of the high sensitivity of the BAP tag, the RFID reader's receiver sensitivity also should be high to be able to receive this signal. Keep in mind that high sensitivity does not help the performance of standard passive labels because performance in this case is limited by the reader-to-tag link. This is why our team is using the CSL CS462 reader powered by Impinj. Other, lower sensitivity readers will still work, but they will provide lower performance.

When The RFID Network published this article in 2009, our engineers previously recommended Battery Assisted Passive (BAP) RFID tags kits without a specific RFID reader. This has resulted in dozens of support calls to our engineers because the sensitivity of most ISO/IEC 18000-6 UHF RFID readers is not high enough to take advantage BAP tags and resulted in performance less than what we have published here. As a result, our engineers only recommend readers with high sensitivity when working with BAP RFID tags. For more details, watch the 2012 video below.

The Intelleflex FMR-6000 enterprise class reader offered with this starter kit has a receive sensitivity of -120 dBm at 2.5 Kbps, the highest sensitivity our engineers have found of any commercially available UHF RFID reader on the market.

With handhelds RFID readers, BAP tags will still outperform most passive tags but the difference in read range will be less significant. The reason for degradation is that the small size of the handheld limits the size of the antenna which in turn limits the gain and beam width of the antenna. Additionally, many handheld readers limit the output power of the reader in order to conserve battery life. That’s why our team recommends the CSL CS101: it not only has a larger antenna, but allows full control over the transmit power.

Why Reader Sensitivity is Critical When Using BAP RFID Tags


Battery Assisted Passive or BAP UHF RFID tag starter kit
Product Rating:
Our Product Review Rating Explained
A Best-In-Class Award

Intelleflex RFID
Watch this video on-demand at .

A Best-In-Class Award to the PowerID PowerM Durable Tags and PowerG Labels

The durable PowerM RFID tag reads further than any other ISO-18000-6C compliant tag we have tested with a stationary reader: 157 feet.

The PowerG label reads further than any other ISO-18000-6C compliant tag we have tested with a stationary reader: 157 feet. What's surprising about this distance is PowerG is a global tag, meaning it is optimized to perform well across regions. It also has a lot more memory than comparable tags: 96-bit EPC memory + 720-bit on-chip user memory, as well as a 64-bit tag unique identifier. All of these features earn the PowerG a 5-star rating. Since PowerID set a price tag of under $1.00 in high volumes, we have to give the PowerG a RFID Network Best-in-Class Award.

If your current passive RFID labels are working for your application, great.  However, if you’re occasionally missing tag reads and especially if you’re working with liquids or metals, then we encourage you to try the battery-assisted RFID labels from PowerID. Click here to get a BAP RFID Starter Kit from PowerID. Remember, these labels can be incorporated into an existing Gen 2 infrastructure with no hardware changes whatsoever.

PowerID Battery Assisted Passive RFID Labels Read at 150+ Feet (Previous Video)

Traditional passive Gen 2 RFID labels read at distances up to 35 feet away. PowerID claims that their Battery-Assisted Passive RFID durable tags and labels can be read from over 150 feet away.  In this edition we’re going put that claim to the test and see just how much power the PowerID tags really have.

This article has been viewed 19569 times.

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